Ground Report | New Delhi: Why Malnutrition is high in India; Child malnutrition has increased across India in recent years, rapidly reversing the gains from hard work. However, the funds released under the POSHAN Abhiyaan programme, which aims to reduce malnutrition in the country, are being severely under-utilised.
Why Malnutrition is high in India
More than 33 lakh children in India are malnourished and more than half of them fall in the severely malnourished category along with Maharashtra, Bihar, and Gujarat.
Data compiled by health researchers showed that 50 percent of children below five years of age in Ayodhya, Uttar Pradesh, are malnourished. This situation is in stark contrast to the attempts to establish Ram Rajya in Ayodhya. This is the first time in the map prepared on malnutrition that the level of child malnutrition has been estimated in 3941 assembly constituencies of India.
A study conducted by researchers from Harvard School of Public Health, NITI Aayog, and other institutions shows that more than half of children under five in Ayodhya are stunted, indicating chronic malnutrition.
Stunting causes irreversible physical and mental harm. Children who have short stature, are short for their age, are more likely to fall ill frequently, have lower school performance, and are more likely to suffer from chronic health disorders.
Most Indian women are anemic and poor women, especially such. And since malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished children, experts say worsening rates of malnutrition may be the result of women struggling to access nutritional benefits.
Malnutrition in Ayodhya
Ayodhya is very important for BJP because it is also helpful in bringing the party to power through Ram temple and Hindutva in the coming elections. The child development figure in Ayodhya is 52.25 percent and the national ranking of this constituency is 3,870, even with the BJP at its core.
Malnutrition levels are more than 50 percent in more than 80 assembly constituencies in Bihar and more than 60 in Uttar Pradesh. Ayodhya is also included where dwarfism is 52.25 percent.
In Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana the level of stunting does not exceed 50 percent in any assembly constituency.
The study combined child malnutrition data from the 2016 National Family Health Survey from 640 districts across the geographic boundaries of India’s 3,941 assembly constituencies to measure the prevalence of four key indicators – stunting, underweight, wasting, and anemia.
NITI Aayog Vice-Chairman Rajiv Kumar in a media release issued by Harvard said, “This work brings together the power of data science to reveal, for the first time, the nutritional status of children in every assembly constituency in India, thereby placing a concrete measure of the work in the public domain”.
Utilisation of fund is low
According to the data released by the Women and Child Development (WCD), only Rs 2,98,555.92 lakh has been utilized out of Rs 5,31,279.08 lakh released for POSHAN Abhiyaan from the central fund in the country.
Figures show that out of Rs 26,751.08 lakh released to West Bengal till March 2021, none of the money has been utilised. Similarly, out of Rs 56,968.96 lakh released by the Center to Uttar Pradesh, the state has utilized only Rs 19,219.28 lakh in the same period.
Madhya Pradesh has spent Rs 19,219.28 lakh out of Rs 39,398.53 lakh released since 2019, and Rajasthan has spent less than 50 per cent of the funds allocated to it. Of the 36 states and union territories for which the ministry has released the data, none of the states or union territories have fully utilized their funds for POSHAN Abhiyaan.